Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde set the course of 20th century classical music by keeping the audience in suspense for four hours with a single unresolved chord.
An urban legend from the late 1980s claimed that Soviet scientists had drilled so far down they hit hell – and brought back an audio recording of the suffering souls. But it was actually Baron Blood.
Since 1939 an author named Nicolas Bourbaki has published a series of volumes on pure mathematics. But Bourbaki does not exist.
At Barra Airport, in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, you cannot land at high tide.
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw many feminist utopias that portrayed a society run by women: by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Irene Clyde, former New Zealand prime minister Julius Vogel, and the influential Bangladeshi author Begum Rokeya.
The shells of almost all common garden snails coil to the right. Almost all.
The first Olympic marathon was pretty wild: an Australian competitor collapsed and then punched a spectator, the third-place runner was disqualified for riding in a carriage, and a woman prevented from entering ran the same course the next day.
The famed Romantic poet Thomas Gray wrote a verse about his friend’s cat drowning in a goldfish bowl. [2 of 2]
Cat poetry has a long history: Christopher Smart wrote a Romantic religious poem featuring his cat Jeoffry while confined in a mental asylum in the 1760s. [1 of 2]
Some of the best beers in the world (according to aficionados) are also among the rarest beers in the world.
The Sardinian launeddas, also known as a triplepipe, sounds like someone playing three clarinets at the same time.
Two German politicians resigned from office – in 2011 and 2013 – when their doctorates were revoked because of plagiarism.
In 9th century CE France, a monk went undercover in a rival monastery for ten years to steal a holy relic.
The French mercenary Bob Denard overthrew the government of the Comoros four times: in 1975, 1978, 1989, and 1995.
The white sausage equator (Weißwurstäquator) divides northern and southern Germany. The rösti curtain (Röstigraben) divides German-speaking and French-speaking Switzerland.
The sides of Kawa Ijen, a volcano in Indonesia, are wreathed in blue flame.